Last updated on 13/08/2021
Since learning about the benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO) a few years ago, and how linked wellbeing is to our capacity to set healthy boundaries, I’ve used it as yet another self-care motivation tool for clients and students. I especially loved Dr Christiane Northrup’s inclusion of ‘righteous anger’ as a way to enhance our production of this ‘wellness molecule’.
A colourless gas, NO is produced by the blood vessels and transports neurotransmitters around the blood stream. These neurotransmitters include dopamine (linked with feeling good and motivation, boosted by Yoga Nidra (READ MORE…) and the anticipation of reward), serotonin, endorphins (sometimes known as ‘runner’s high’) and oxytocin (the care hormone).
It signals white blood cells to fight infection, reduces inflammation and enables blood to flow through the blood vessels more easily.
There are lots of wellness enhancing ways to boost NO production. These include meditation (READ MORE…), positive thinking (READ MORE…), feeling heightened positive emotions like love, compassion, awe, pride, hope, honour and joy (READ MORE…), exercise (READ MORE…), orgasm (you don’t need to read more. You’ve got this) and eating antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables.
Righteous anger stands out because for some of my clients and students (and myself before I understood just how powerful our anger and rage is), it’s the most challenging to the idea of ‘love and light’.
We need to process all of our feelings. Setting healthy boundaries, for ourselves and others, is essential for self-care and for Self Care (READ MORE…). Dr Northrup calls this NO boost the immune system having a moral compass.
If we see someone being harassed and don’t speak up for them and stop it (at time of writing, we’re seeing more of sunlight being the best disinfectant as people who don’t feel able to speak out there and then, are at least able to film the abuses on public transport and so on and justice can be sought afterwards), our immune function goes down.
Seriously. We all know how awful it feels to stay silent – whether at work, in the supermarket, at home or even on social media when we know we need to speak up for an individual or marginalised group but it can actually make us ill.
On the other hand, speaking up makes us healthier. We don’t have to confront the perpetrator. We can ignore them entirely and instead ask the person being subjected to racist, sexist, transphobic or homophobic (or anything else) abuse if they’re OK. We can make it clear with our presence – to them and whoever is being abusive – that they have at least one ally.
If we’re unable to (feeling unsafe or anything else), we can reflect afterwards with as much self-compassion as possible, on ways in which we might do better next time. We might connect with others to help us feel more empowered to speak up against any injustices.
Saying, ‘Enough’ to those in our own lives can be even more challenging but is essential. Sometimes, we might say ‘No’ or set whatever boundary just once and that’s enough. The person changes decades’ of bad behaviour (in that particular area – not saying they’re a bad person) based on that one no.
In most cases, the Universe gives us many lessons to practice our ‘No’, our ‘Enough’ our, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’.
At first, we might shame spiral, wondering why others seem to find it so much easier to set healthy boundaries. In time, we get a bit better at it. You might want to work with me (Persephone Self Care Supervision, Coaching and Therapy may be of interest – READ MORE…) or someone else but you are worth it. Anything that feels uncomfortable is simply your body telling you to do something and step into your power to benefit everyone.
In Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker’s phenomenal sequel to The Color Purple, it turns out that ‘resistance is the secret of joy.’ I don’t know if the divine Ms Walker knew about nitric oxide back then but with certain unacceptable behaviours and attitudes resurfacing in society now, it feels more apt than ever.